Man walks free after killing wife in bad dream

A man who strangled his wife during a nightmare in the belief he was attacking an intruder walked free from court today after the case against him was withdrawn.

Brian Thomas, 59, of Neath, South Wales, killed his wife Christine, 57, while they were holidaying in West Wales in July 2008.



At Swansea Crown Court today the prosecution told the jury that it was no longer seeking a special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity and that there would be no purpose in sending Thomas to a psychiatric hospital.







The court erupted into shouts of "yes" as family members jubilantly greeted the outcome today.

Their reaction came after Paul Thomas QC, the prosecutor, explained the situation to the jury after yesterday's day-long adjournment in proceedings.



"We are no longer seeking a special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity," Mr Thomas told the jury.



"We have a continuing duty to review the case and we took the opportunity yesterday to take stock of the situation.



"It is clear from the evidence that no useful purpose would be served by Mr Thomas being detained in a psychiatric hospital."











Iwan Jenkins, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS Dyfed Powys, said: "This has been a unique case with a unique set of circumstances.

"We have a duty to keep cases under continuous review, and following expert evidence from a psychiatrist it was suggested no useful purpose would be served by Mr Thomas being detained and treated in a psychiatric hospital, which would be the consequence of a special verdict in this case.



"Once it was raised, the CPS had a duty to review the case and decided that, guided as we must be and have been throughout this case by the views of the experts, the public interest would no longer be served by continuing to seek a special verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.



"The consequences of such a finding would have meant Mr Thomas' detention in a psychiatric hospital, but it is now clear that the psychiatrists feel that that would serve no useful purpose and the risk of reoccurrence is very, very small. We therefore have offered no further evidence and asked the jury to return a simple verdict of not guilty."



He added: "Our thoughts remain with the family of Brian and Christine Thomas who have remained dignified throughout this difficult time."







High Court Judge Justice Davis KT, told Thomas that in the eyes of the law he bore no responsibility for what he had done.

He described him as a "decent man and devoted husband".



He said that from his understanding of his character from what had come out in court he may go away with a sense of guilt about what happened but he underlined a second time: "In the eyes of the law you bear no responsibility for what happened."









Raymond Thomas, the brother of Brian, spoke of his relief and jubilation at the outcome today as he left court.

"Family and friends are truly delighted by the outcome today.



"They were a loving couple and always like that together.



"He has always been a loving husband and a family man.



"This was a tragic, tragic episode and we are all very emotional."



He added: "It is like one psychiatrist has said, this was a perfect storm. My brother is a decent man."











During the brief trial at Swansea Crown Court, there was intensive interest in details of the case across the world.

It opened on Tuesday with jurors hearing that Mr Thomas accepted that he had killed his wife of 40 years, who had also been his childhood sweetheart.



They were told that psychiatrists for the prosecution and the defence agreed that he suffered from a long-standing sleep disorder and he had been in a state of automatism at the time.



That meant that while he was asleep his mind was not in control of what his body was doing.



The tragic death of his wife happened in July last year when the couple had travelled 60 miles to Aberporth in West Wales in their Peugeot camper van.



They stopped for the night in a car park but were disturbed by boy racers doing wheel spins and handbrake turns.



As a result they moved to a pub car park for the rest of the night.



But Mr Thomas, who took medication for depression, had stopped taking his tablets some time before the holiday.



The couple, who had separate bedrooms at their home in Neath, planned to be "intimate" while on holiday.



Mr Thomas had stopped his medication because one of the side-effects was that it made him impotent.



Expert evidence during the trial, however, suggested that he would have suffered worsening dreams and nightmares as a result of the withdrawal symptoms he would be experiencing.



In a nightmare probably triggered by the earlier incident with the boy racers, Mr Thomas believed an intruder had broken into the couple's camper van.



During the violent nightmare he attacked and fought the intruder and got him in a headlock - only to wake and find he had strangled his wife.



Due to the highly unusual nature of the case the prosecution had been seeking a "special verdict" of not guilty of murder by reason of insanity.



The alternative to that was a simple not guilty verdict.



Expert evidence from both sides previously made it clear that there was no purpose in sending Mr Thomas to a psychiatric hospital.



Therefore, today the jury was instructed by Justice Davis to bring in a formal not guilty verdict and Mr Thomas was freed after being held in custody since January.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Sport
Esteban Cambiasso makes it 3-3
premier league
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleFirst memoir extracts show she 'felt pressured' into going out with the Sex Pistols manager
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late
Sport
Lewis Hamilton in action during the Singapore Grand Prix
Formula OneNico Rosberg retires after 14 laps
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam